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Firings & Layoffs


Firings and Layoffs

Do I get notice before I'm let go?

Yes, but only if you've been employed continuously for three months or more. This gives you the right to written notice or to pay if notice is not given. How much notice you get depends on how long you've been working at the same place.

(Note: If you belong to a union, check your collective agreement. You'll likely have better notice and termination pay clauses than the minimums found in the law. You'll also have the right to fight an unjust firing through your grievance procedure. And you probably will also have severance pay provisions.)

Length of employment -- Notice required
Less than 3 months -- None
3 months to 2 years -- 1 week
2 years to 4 years -- 2 weeks
4 years to 6 years -- 4 weeks
6 years to 8 years -- 5 weeks
8 years to 10 years -- 6 weeks
10 years or more -- 8 weeks

Do I get paid?

If you don't get the required written notice, you must be paid for the number of weeks of notice you should have received. You're entitled to all your wages, overtime, general holiday pay and vacation pay owed within three days of your last day of employment.  If your wages vary from one pay period to another, the average of wages for the 3-month period immediately preceding the date of termination is used to determine termination pay. Your employer can give you a combination of notice and pay that equals the number of weeks' pay you're eligible for. 

All outstanding pay must be paid to you within 3 days of your termination date.

Can my employer change my wages or benefits while on termination notice?

No. Wages, wage rate, and any other term or condition of employment remains the same during the time termination notice is given by the employer or employee and the date employment terminates.

What are the exceptions to termination notice?

You aren't entitled to termination notice if:
  • You're fired for just cause.
  • You're a construction worker.
  • You're covered by other laws (academic staff).
  • You're a municipal police officer.
  • You were hired for a definite term or task of less than 12 months. (This doesn't apply to oil well drilling or geophysical exploration.)
  • Your boss made a reasonable offer of another job and you said "no."
  • You refused work available through a seniority system.
  • You're laid off because of a strike or lockout at your workplace.
  • You have an agreement where you can say "yes" or "no" to temporary work.
  • There's a lack of work your employer couldn't foresee or control.
  • You're a seasonal worker and your work is finished at the end of the season.
  • You're on temporary layoff and don't come back to work within 7 days after your boss asks you to in writing.
  • Your job is clearing land and involves cutting, removing, and disposing of trees and/or brush.

What about temporary layoffs?

Your boss doesn't have to give notice or pay compensation if you're laid off temporarily.

If the lay-off is temporary, you must be called back to work within 59 days. Otherwise, your job is over on the 60th day, and your boss must give you termination pay according to your length of service. But there are some exceptions:
  • If, after your layoff began, you and your boss agreed that you would get wages or an amount instead of wages. In this case, you're eligible for termination pay only when the agreement ends.
  • If your boss is making payments towards your pension or insurance plan, or a similar benefit. After your job ends, you're eligible for termination pay when the payments stop.
  • If you're unionized, and your contract has recall rights.

Your employer has to ask you to return to work in writing. If you don't go back within 7 days, your boss can let you go without further notice or termination pay.

If you're let go while on temporary lay-off, you're still entitled to termination pay.

Do the temporary layoff rules apply to all workers?

No. There are special rules for school workers and school bus drivers:
  • If the summer break is longer than 59 days, the temporary layoff of school workers and school bus drivers can be longer. This means your employer doesn't have to give you termination pay because there's a summer break. But you must work until the end of one school year and be given the option of working again when the next school year begins.
  • The temporary layoff provisions don't apply to workers who get paid by their employer during the summer break.

What if I want to quit?

You're required to give notice in writing. If you've been working between 3 months and 2 years, you should give one week's notice. For two years or more, you should give 2 weeks notice.  If you don't give proper notice your boss can withhold everything owed to you for up to 10 days after you quit. If you give proper notice, whatever you're owed must be paid out within 3 days.

Exceptions for employees giving required notice:

  • there is an established custom or practice in any industry respecting the termination of employment that is contrary to what is set forth in the Act
  • an employee terminates employment because the employee’s personal health or safety would be in danger if the employee continued to be employed by the employer
  • the contract of employment is or has become impossible for the employee to perform by reason of unforeseeable or unpreventable causes beyond the control of the employee
  • the employee has been employed by the employer for 3 months or less
  • the employee is temporarily laid off
  • the employee is laid off after refusing an offer by the employer of reasonable alternative work
  • the employee is not provided with work by the employer by reason of a strike or lockout occurring at the employee’s place of employment
  • the employee is employed under an agreement by which the employee may elect either to work or not to work for a temporary period when requested to work by the employer
  • an employee terminates the employment because of a reduction in wage rate, overtime rate, vacation pay, general holiday pay or termination pay.

If an employer chooses to terminate employment after the employee submits a notice to terminate employment, the employer must pay the employee an amount at least equal to the wages for regular hours of work for the remainder of time set out in the quit notice.  If the employees notice period is longer than what the employer is legally required to provide, the employer only has to pay regular wages for the time set out in the employer's required notice section.

How do I get more information?

You can call the Alberta Employment Standards number at (780) 427-3731. For toll-free access in Alberta, call the RITE line at 310-0000, then dial (780) 427-3731. Hearing impaired with TDD/TDY units call 427-9999 in Edmonton. Other locations call 1-800-232-7215.

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